Welcome back to Reasons your book isn't selling, where every Wednesday I discuss common mistakes I see authors make that are hurting their book sales. Last week I talked about poor author packaging.
Today's reason your book isn't selling: Targeting the wrong audience
A sure fire way to get me to not buy your book it to tell me it's for everyone. Because we all know that's not true. There has never been (and never will be) a universally loved book. If you ever get it into your head that you have written a book for everyone, please go read all the one-star reviews for Harry Potter. You'll get a crash course in just how wrong that idea is.
If you're going to market your book, you absolutely MUST know who you are marketing to. This is so much more than knowing your genre. Targeting the right audience means know who reads your genre, sub-genre, style, etc. If you don't know who your readers are, how in the world will you reach them.
A few things to keep in mind.
Forget the outliers. My 65 yr-old father-in-law (who happens to have Rite of Revelation dedicated to him) loves my books. And not in the, Oh, my daughter-in-law wrote this kind of way, but in the calls me up mid book because he can't believe I killed off so-and-so way. And that's great. But I'm not going to start a marketing campaign targeting male retirees. Because, while it's possible they might like my book, they aren't my target audience.
Marketing to outliers is a gigantic waste of time. You don't want to spin your wheels in the hopes of reaching people who might like your book. Go straight for the jugular and target those you know will like your book.
Be specific. While it may feel like it, you really can't get too granular when it comes to identifying your target audience. In the marketing world, companies often craft a fictional ideal consumer. This person gets a name (like Sally) and companies assign characteristics based on what they know about their customers. When it comes time to create a new product or marketing campaign, they will ask what Sally thinks about it. This is a gut check to see if they are on the right path.
We need to do the same when deciding on our marketing efforts. Book trailers may be trendy and eye catchy, but do your readers watch videos online? Swag is great, but those temporary tattoos might not go over well with the target audience for a cozy mystery. The more specific you get with your audience, the better equipped you are to make decisions about your marketing efforts.
Trim where needed. It can be tempting to cast a wide net when you are just getting started in your path to publication. But I promise, this is a waste of your time and money. For me, I love the idea of getting my books in front of book clubs. They are full of people who love to read AND talk about books. Hi there! But the reality is that my books aren't typical book club fair. So instead of trying to get into any book club, I've focused on introducing my books to teen clubs or ones with adults who read YA. While it sounds like it would benefit me to get into more book clubs, the truth is that I would end up spending a lot of time for very little pay off.
Who are you writing for? If you don't know, marketing your work is bound to be a colossal waste of time. Instead, take the time to figure out who the fans are of novels similar to yours. Figure out where they hang out online, offline and what they do while they are there. Understanding your audience is crucial when it comes to selling your books.